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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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Charlotte 28, Obama 28, Nascar 27, North Carolina 24, Us 22, America 16, Washington 12, France 11, Bill Clinton 11, Paul Ryan 8, Barack Obama 8, United States 8, Osama Bin 8, U.s. 7, North Korea 7, George W. Bush 7, Cisco 6, Iran 6, Syria 6, Vietnam 6,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    September 3, 2012
    1:00 - 3:59pm PDT  

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the humidity is still going to come down in the form of rain. so there was rain that affected the rnc and rain that affected the dnc as well. >> oh, boy. they're going to have to bring umbrellas come thursday night. chad, thank you very much. thank you so much for being with me. hope you had a wonderful labor day. we'll be back the same time tomorrow. let's send you to charlotte. wolf blitzer, "the situation room" begins now. thanks very much. take a look at this. we've got live pictures of the first lady of the united states. she's here at the time warner cable arena. she's now at the podium the right there. you can see she's getting instructions, trying to begin to get a little feel for that stage up there. the teleprompter that will eventually be there. she's going to deliver a major address here, obviously, in charlotte at the democratic national convention tomorrow night. that's what the first lady will be doing. she's been here now, i'm guessing for at least 45 minutes
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to an hour. she was up in the sky boxes walking around, doing some television interviews, and just beginning to get a flavor for what's going on. this will be a very important address. she's very popular out there. has high, high approval and favorability numbers. there's no doubt about that. and she's going to be under enormous pressure to deliver that big speech tomorrow night. we're here in "the situation room" watching everything that's going on. gloria borger is here. brianna keilar is here. as we see the first lady, this is normal. everybody does this. all the big speakers, at some point, they come in here, an they want to get a feel for the room. >> they call it the walkthrough. they get to practice a bit on the the teleprompter. you see that to the side of michelle obama. reading off of a teleprompter is an unnatural act. it's not easy to do. you have to move your head back
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and forth and keep following along and engage the audience at the same time, which is not easy, and engage the television audience. she's getting applause right now. >> and she's practicing a little bit. as important as the reception she gets for the 20,000 or 25,000 delegates and guests inside the arena, what's sho much more important is the reception sh gets from the 40 or 50 million viewers out there, many of them still undecided. >> and i think the bar is set pretty high for her. she now has this many years later quite a bit of public speaking experience. she tends to do pretty well, i think you'll agree, when she's speaking at events. large events, small events. thinks going to be one of the speeches most anticipated throughout this entire week. >> and ann romney gave a good speech in tampa.
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>> both will reach out to the all important women voters. president obama has a dozen point lead in the polls when it comes to women. ann romney was trying very hard to appeal to women. and michelle obama is clearly going to try to up the number. >> and speaking of that, guys standby for a moment. i'm going to bring both of you back. the president is rallying key parts of his base. he was in ohio unleashing a fiery new line of attack against his opponent that at times seemed more like sports commentary than political rhetoric. our white house correspondent dan lothian has details. dan? >> well, wolf n the key battleground state of ohio where polls show an almost even race, president obama continued the to sharpen his convention message, casting himself as the champion of the middle class. but still going after republicans criticizing last week's republican national convention and mitt romney for what the president said he didn't do.
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offer any new ideas. the president also offered up his own sports analogy, trying to counter an attack from mitt romney that america needs a new coach. >> on first down he hikes taxes by nearly $2,000 on the average family with kids in order to pay for a massive tax cut for multimillionaires. on second down, he calls an audible and undoes reforms there to prevent another financial crisis and bank bailout. and then on third down he calls for a hail mary. ending medicare as we know it. there's a flag on the play. loss of up to an additional than you get now. i have a piece of advise for you, ohio. punt it away.
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it won't work. it won't win the game. you don't need that coach. that's a losing season. >> before arriving at the rally, president obama stopped off at a local diner sitting down for president with three automotive workers. later the president touted his auto bailout plan which has saved many jobs is critical to voters in ohio. the region imprakted directly or indirectly by the industry. now the obama campaign has also rolled out a new ad, going after mitt romney's tax plan, saying it's unfair to middle-class americans but benefits the wealthy. wolf? >> dan lothian, thanks very much. here in north carolina it's not just about politics, this is also nascar counted. and when it comes to voters, that could be a serious problem for president obama in november. let's bring back brianna keilar, the white house correspondent. you've been looking at this part
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of the story. what are you finding out? >> well, you know this is nascar country, but charlotte, and you know if you're a nascar fan, this is the capital of nascar country. this is where all the basing teams are based. all the drivers have homes here. this is where the nascar hall of fame is. you have charlotte motor speedway right up the road. it's a good place to talk about the vote that tends to be white male, and it's that tough sale for president obama. charlotte, north carolina, home to the nascar hall of fame. this is the epicenter for the engine revving sport. while nascar consistents of a lot of left turns, the typical nascar voter steers right. winston kelly is the head of the hall of fame and a nascar radio commentator. this might not be the most support i group for him. >> well, nascar traditionally is
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a little bit more republican. but north carolina is very much a swing state. >> so who is your driver? >> probably dale jr. >> steven eliot happens to be visiting from atlanta during convention week. >> i'm kind of disappointed. he came in with a big fanfare and a lot of hope and promise. i don't think he fulfilled a lot of the hopes and dreams is that he was talking about. he let a lot of people down. >> but the obama campaign isn't banking on voters like eliot. they've long been considered out of reach for the democratic party. and in the last four years he's lost even more ground. >> the president is facing significant decline, especially with the blue collar white men. they've been the tough audience from theout sit. but the numbers are getting really bad. >> exit polls from 2008 show 57% of white males voted for john mccain. 41% for obama. the latest numbers for the summer show the president has slipped 8 percentage points more
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with this group, and that means president obama has to rely on voter who is tend to be in his corner. hispanic, black and young voters. and especially women. >> it's almost impossible for them to make a change in four years. the next four years, why not give him another chance to see what he can do? >> i voted for president obama, and i'll vote for him again. because i don't think he's had enough time to correct the damage done by the republican party. so i just feel that he needs the time. >> this coalition of voters holds the key to victory for president obama if he can persuade them to turn out in big numbers, and he sure is trying. >> i'm counting on you. i'm counting on you. i'm counting on you. if you're not renl stgistered t
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vote. you have to ridegister. >> that's the big challenge, even with nascar enthusiasts. >> they're more concerned about who wins the election in november or who wins the cup? >> who wins the sprint cup. no question about it. >> and there are some parallels here, i will say. the cup, the last race of the season, which could decide who wins the nascar season is in november. as you know, the election is, of course, and the final race of the season is where? it's in florida. >> big battleground state. >> you know a lot about nascar, don't you? >> yeah, i'm a big fan. it's strange. i know. >> people love it. very popular sport. >> yep, i love it. >> brianna, thanks very, very much. she's happy to be here in charlotte as well. >> democrats are focused on winning another key voter block. the undecided voters.
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lest talk about that a little bit more. a relatively small number of undecided voters. 8 -- >> yeah, about 8%. >> but those are the critical one who is will decide the election. they are. first and foremost the president has to talk to this the voters. the disappointed voters who aren't sure if they're going to vote for him now. he has to say, look, here's what i've achieved. i did the auto bailout. i started the recovery going. and then what he has to do is take a turn portray mitt romney as a risky choice. if you choose mitt romney, he's going to make things better for the wealthy, but not for the middle class, and draw a strong contrast on a whole host of issues with the man you saw at the republican convention. kind of tee up the election contest. >> he also has to explain what he would do in a second term.
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>> he does. >> how much specific detail does he need to present? >> i think he's got to get pretty specific. you talk to the president's advisers and they're not giving away a game plan here, but he has to tell the american public what he would do for the next four years, how he will get the economy under control, and what policies he will pursue. will be it energy policy? will it be education policy? but most of all, wolf, he has to let people know he can fix it. he has to say, we're almost over the hump. if you go with mitt romney, we're not going to get over it. so it's very tough for the undecided voters. they want to hear specifics from him. >> how do democrats explain that he failed to change the culture of washington. the bitterness is just as bad,
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if not worse, than when he took office. people aren't getting along at all. >> yeah, it's a tough explanation. what they're going to do is blame it on the republicans. they're going to say from the very beginning -- and i talk to top obama advisers. they felt the republicans were out to do them in from day one. the republicans will say, not so fast. if you had given us things we could compromise on, we would have. but you had control of the congress. they will say from month one on the stimulus package going forward they could not find places to cooperate. the republicans will say that's not true so the public will be frustrated by explanations on both sides buzz they don't think
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president obama delivered the post partisan environment they're looking for. and they're not sure that mitt romney can do it either. >> the democrats to have what mitch mcconnell said early on, the number one goal of the republican is also to defeat the president. make sure he doesn't serve a second term. >> when you say that, what is the public supposed to think? and it gives the president an opportunity. >> so tw the question the democrats can't seem to escape, are you better off now than you were four years ago? but some answers could create a major stumbling block before the convention begins. i'll ask the chair of the democratic national committee, debbie wasserman schultz. plus vice president joe biden is addressing the question head on. and he isn't mincing words. continuing to lend and investe in communities across the country. whether it's supporting a delaware nonprofit that's providing training and employment opportunities,
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nearly a week after hurricane isaac slammed into the gulf coast, flood waters are still rising in some areas. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's the latest, lisa? >> well, evacuation orders and flood warnings remain in effect in louisiana and mississippi as rivers are expected to crest over the next couple of days. more than 3,600 people remain in shelters and tens of thousands of homes remain without electricity. national guard troops have been deployed to some areas to help with security. and gas marine prices rose 9.4% in the month of august, mo than any single month in over three years. the national average now stands at $3.83, experts say a major refinery fire in california and the shutdown of facilities in the gulf helped drive prices
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higher. but gas prices are expected to drop to cents a gallon over the next month. and take a look at these pictures. that's britain's prince andrew. he's rappelling for a more than 1,000 foot skyscraper in london from europe's tallest building. the called it, quote, nerve racking. through pledges andrews raised nearly half a million dollars for charity by taking part in the event. that's something else. especially for a novice. i'm guessing he doesn't have too much experience. i'm sure he doesn't, but he's got guts. nice work. so do you want to know what it's really like to experience the democratic national convention from the inside? tomorrow, you can join the round table with me and cnn's political team submit your questions and get answers
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realtime. that's tomorrow at noon eastern. log onto cnn.com/roundtable and get your questions in. it will explain everything we're going to be doing. are you better off now than you were four years ago? i'll ask the chair of the democratic national committee, debbie wasserman schultz in the president lived up to his promises. the vice president joe biden is addressing the question head on. he isn't mincing words. you'll hear how he is responding as well. this happy couple used capital one venture miles for their "destination wedding." double miles you can "actually" use. but with those single mile travel cards... [ bridesmaid ] blacked out... but i'm a bridesmaid. oh! "x" marks the spot she'll never sit. but i bought a dress! a toast... ...to the capital one venture card. fly any airline, any flight, anytime. double miles you can actually use. what a coincidence? what's in your wallet? [ all screaming ]
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>> how many days have you woken up feeling something really special was happening in america? many of you felt that way in election day four years ago but tonight i ask a simple question. if you felt that excitement when you voted for barack obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's president obama? >> and joining us now, the chair of the national committee, the florida congresswoman, debbie wasserman schultz. thank you very much. you'll be gaveling into order. what time? 2:00? >> no, no. about 4:00 or 5:00. >> later in the day. okay. so let's talk about the question. ronald reagan posed it when he was challenging an incumbent democratic candidate. are you better off today than you were four years ago? >> most definitely we're better off. when president obama took office, he inherited an economy that had just lost in the
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previous six months over under george w. bush 3.5 million jobs. really thanks to the failed policies that really crashed the economy. now we've had 29 straight months of job growth in the private sector. we had a resurgence in the manufacturing sector, creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s. and an economy that's moving forward again. if we go backward in the direction that mitt romney wants to take us, we're really going to potentially put ourselves in the same situation. >> so unemployment in january of 2008 was 7.8%. it's now 8.3%. >> well, president obama inherited the larger set of problems. and he's been focused on making sure we can fight for the middle class and working families.
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if you work hard and play be the rules that you'll have an opportunity to be successful. seeshlly he's been doing that with one hand tied behind his back. i thought it was pretty dis disingenuous things to say. >> because he wanted the country to succeed. mitt romney said in my home state, we have to remember what the election is really about. defeating barack obama. he's certainly not remotely tried to help make sure we can move forward. i want to continue you this, but you can see she's back on the floor. she's trying to get a feeling for the huge arena, the time warner cable arena. she was out there earlier doing interviews as well. >> she's going to do a great job. we're so excited. >> so let's continue this.
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in 2008 the u national debt was $10 trillion, when the president took office, it's now approaching $16 trillion. so from the national debt perspective, the country is in pretty bad shape. >> wolf, we need to focus on our debt relief and deficit reduction. we need to do that in a balanced way. what the republicans want to do under the romney/ryan budget is ask the middle class to pay for more budget busting tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. the romney/ryan budget adds $5 billion in tax breaks skewed to the wealthiest americans. president obama thinks we need to make sure to ask everybody to pay the fair share. pay more if you're fortunate so everybody in america can have the chance to be successful. >> african-americans are very supportive of the president of the united states. >> and right now mitt romney is polling at 0%. >> in one wall street journal
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poll. but that's a small number. >> never seen it at sooe roar. >> unemployment was 9.7% back in 2008. it's now 14.1%. very enthusiastic in 2008 for the president. he cried the night he was elected. now they're saying they're not going to vote for romney, but they're diappointed in the president. they'll probably vote for the president, but they might not vote at all. the enthusiasm problem is a serious problem. >> i couldn't disagree more. i haven't seen anything like the lack of enthusiasm that you're describing. i've spoken to thousands of african-americans who are excited and enthusiastic. president obama has made sure that we invest in things like education to close the achievement gap. for historically black colleges and universities, $1.4 billion that he invested so more
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african-americans could get a college education and have an opportunity to live the american dream. he would cut the opportunities that african-americans have gotten under president obama. the minority business opportunities. 20% of minority business loans have gone to minority businesses. those tr the opportunities made possible for the middle l class and working families. mitt romney says we should go back to the tricked don economics to take us back to that time when things weren't so good. >> is your good friend gabby giffords going to be here? >> gabby is so committed to continuing her recovery. and i'm looking forward to watching her. >> do you think she'll come?
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>> we will see. she's going to continue to focus on her recovery. she moved to tucson. not sure what the future holds for her. >> we wish her all the best. a speedy recovery. good luck with your convention. we'll stay in touch. >> absolutely. >> thank you very much. in the next hour, by the way. congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz, counter parts, the republican chairman joins me here as well. up next, the vice president of the united states, joe biden is hitting the are you better off question had on? you can see how he's responding? we'll break it down with a special panel. they're getting ready. there are a lot of warning lights
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we'll get back to the democratic convention. it's about to begin tomorrow. much more on that, including unsolicited advice. standby for that. but other news including raging violence in syria with reports of more than 200 people killed on this ver day. thousands and thousands are fleeing to the turkish border. they are desperate to escape. here's nic robertson. >> reporter: few people, and it
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really is just a few, a couple of dozen vehicles have crossed through the border crossing. some of the cars have packed out with clothes, possessions, suitcases, blan keketed stuffs the cars. and space taken up by baggage or people getting out of the country. those appear to the be the lucky ones. on the other side of the border, there are 4,000 to 5,000 syrian families, men, women, children, living out in the open, waiting for an opportunity to come to turkey. they've already taken 80,000 refuge refugees. they're building three more camp ls. however there are 17,000 to 20,000 people living in schools, living in government buildings. and the government will need to
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prioritize the new camp spaces. the 30,000 will be filled automatically to two-thirds u full. the others on the other said are told they will be allowed in, but the concern is many, many more will want to come. and it is tense on the other side of the border today. more concerns about the possibility of another attack, and about 50 kilometers for the border, a bombing strike that killed more than a dozen people. and it's exactly those type of bombing strikes driving people to the border, making them flee. and that was seen here today. people crossing over, getting out as best they can. many more behind them waiting to get out. nic robertson, cnn, on the turkish syrian border. >> slaughter continuing in syria, even as we speak right now. has been for months and months. much more on this story coming up in the next hour. when we come back, unsolicited advice. our panel is getting ready at
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the cnn grill, that got some strong views on whether or not tb country is better off today than it was four years ago or not. stand by. i i had pain in my abdomen...g. it just wouldn't go away. i was spotting, but i had already gone through menopause. these symptoms may be nothing... but they could be early warning signs of a gynecologic cancer, such as cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer. feeling bloated for no reason. that's what i remember. seeing my doctor probably saved my life. warning signs are not the same for everyone. if you think something's wrong...
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it's been raining pretty hard here in charlotte over the past hour or so. but look at this. just moments ago a rainbow over the city. a nice rainbow over charlotte. we're watching the weather, obviously, very, very closely. thursday night the president is supposed to be at the big outdoor football stadium in charlotte when he does his acceptance speech. we'll see how the weather holds up for that. meanwhile, there's a question
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that democrats simply can't seem to escape. listen to this. >> are you better off than you were four years ago? >> we're in a better position than we were four years ago. >> i think voters understand, candy, we've been through a traumatic economic experience. >> can you honestly say people are better off today than they were four years ago? >> that's not the question of this election. we were not as well off before we were when george bush brought us the bush job losses. the bush recessions. >> i cannot tell you ask him, what was he thinking to say no? >> well, here's the reality of our situation as a country, we are clearly better off as a country because we're now creating jobs rather than losing them. >> the jimmy carter years look like the good old days. >> you know want t know where we're better off? i got a bumper sticker.
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osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive! >> let's get to cnn contributor pete dominicks. he's at the the cnn grill getting unsolicited advice from our excellent panel on this very question. take it away, pete. >> thank you, wolf blitzer. and we're very excited to have the governor of montana who has a higher approval rating than oprah winfrey, by the way. very well liked in your state. since you're the new guy, we'll ask you first the question. are we better off than we were four yearses ago? >> dang tootin. i'm a capitalist. when the stock market is going up, people are optimistic. as we recall, right after obama was elected, the stock market started going up. it's doubled. we also know lehman brothers went upside down on the 15th of september, declared bankruptcy, and banks all over the world
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were going down. we didn't know what was coming next in the country. today people are reinvesting. i would say we're on the mend. >> there's so many metrics. which are we choosing? ross, you're a capitalist. >> aren't we all capitalists? i think you handled it well. yes, we are. mention, you know, the collapse that president obama inherited. say something nasty about george w. bush and continue to attack mitt romney. if you spend too much time on it, if you spend too much time sort of e llaborating on the different statistics, people are going to say what about the incredibly stagnant economy? normally when people talk about are you better off than we were four years ago, they're thinking, are we growing fast enough? and even president obama acknowledges we rbt growing fast enough. job growth isn't keeping up with population growth, overall.
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and let's put it this way. if we stay on the current trajectory, would you agree that would be unacceptable? >> trajectory is decreasing imports of oil. we have more -- >> how about just on jobs in the current trajectory on jops. acceptable? >> we need to do better. but is it we or me? is it about the individual, carly? >> yes, and it very much depends who you're talking about. you're right, the stock market is up. there are fewer retail investors in it than ever before. the volume is lower than before. if you're a wall street banker, you're better off. if you're a treregional banker, you're better off. if you're a small automobile dealer, 3,000 of them, you're worse off. if you're apple computer you're better off. if you're a small business owner, you're worse off. more are failing and fewer starting than any time in 40 years. if you're iran you're better
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off. if you're israel, your worse off. >> if you're iran, you're better off. is osama bin laden better off? how about that. >> i think he's much worse off. but i appreciate what carly just said. this is what we would be saying. unfortunately there's not one america anymore. we're beginning to diverge. people on top are doing well. people in the middle are scared. people on the bottom are scared. you have the talking point crowd. they have to be there firing back and forth. i'm hoping people around the country are having a more sophisticated conversation. president obama has nod succeeded yet. the other truth is the republican party has sometimes seemed to be not interested in helping him succeed. so you have two problems. you have to say both parties have underperformed in the past
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period. >> and here we can have common ground. the argument mitt romney isn't making and should be making is the one carly made. the obama recovery hasn't been bad for business across the board. and the smart critique isn't that he hates capitalism, hates freedom and so on. he thinks you're sort of micro mnging the government-business relationship, and the that's been good for people on the top and not as good down the laider. >> van and i just agree more and more. it's getting scary. the truth is, more people are living in poverty today than four years ago. the middle class is doing poorly for almost 20 years. >> but why? small business creation is down.
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education is failing, despite the department of education's budget is increasing. president obama has done literally nothing about immigration. >> let me ask you this, what caused the financial collapse, and has that been fixed? >> zbr it said you can play a rigged game with subprime mortgages. we had a bunch of paper that wasn't worst a damn. i don't know that we fixed it all, but we have some fixes in place in terms of the regulation. if you ask the people on the the street on the the 15th of september or the 1st of october of 2008, what do you think tomorrow will bring, we were shell shocked. we didn't know if we were in 1929 or looking at worse.
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today we are coming back. >> you have to give the democrats this. americans are less scared today on an immediate day-to-day level than they were. >> and they're seeing 40 1(k)s coming back. >> if you had said, okay, you're scared now but do you think the american economy will come roaring back, people would have said yes. >> great conversation. we have to take a quick break. everybody on the panel is going to give our unsolicited advice. we'll be right back. i'm an expert on softball. and tea parties. i'll have more awkward conversations than i'm equipped for because i'm raising two girls on my own. i'll worry about the economy more than a few times before they're grown. but it's for them, so i've found a way. who matters most to you says the most about you. massmutual is owned by our policyholders so they matter most to us.
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we're back here at the cnn grill in charlotte, north carolina, and now it's time to give the unsolicited advice. let's start with the great van jones. van, what do you got? >> my advice is to republicans who are going to get themselves ready to watch our convention. all six. i know the temptation will be throw stuff at the tv.
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listen without prejudice. this is the first time in four years you have a chance to hear what is on the hearts of democrats. when this election is over we have to come back and fix the problems. i watched all the speeches. sometimes it have tough. listen without prejudice. >> i would talk to carly. she walked me through it. so hang in there, republicans. >> my unsolicited advice is to ben bernanke, being off the last conversation. i would tell him, remember, ben, this is not about your legacy. it is about the economy. it's not about the stock market. every move he's made has juiced the stock market for short-term investors. it hant helped small businesses and regional banks, which are the backbone of the country. if he does yet another round of easing and it doesn't work, it's
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worse than wasted effort, it will diminish people's confidence that a central bank can make a difference. >> if president obama is reelected, should he get rid of ben bernanke? >> oh, i don't know. gosh. probably. probably. >> already. my advice is for paul ryan. paul, congressman, stop lying. if you're name rimes with lying, you're giving liberal pac talk radio hosts. anybody who has ever ran a marathon knows how hard it is to get sub three. when you lie about something little, we think you might be slying about something big, and you have. you have. be more honest. you can do it. it's what we expect. please, paul ryan, be more clear and honest about everything that you're doing. >> his brand required he be a bold trooud teller.
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it's important for him not to go down the pathway. >> here's one you neverheard, maybe. that people aren't talking about. he said nobody saw the financial crisis coming. nobody saw the housing bubble about to burst. lots of people saw it. >> this is a classic example. these are normal political exaggerations. all right. so taking it away from -- >> he said he ran a marathon in under three hours. nobody does that. unless you're an elite athlete. >> my advice is for convention organizer ls. off choice. now can host your conventions in late summer in the muggy southeast, or turn your conventions into police snakes with long lines and guards and so on, but you can't do both.
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you can't force america's political class to stand out in the stinking humidity for hours on end. there are many wonderful american states. some of they want represented here with a wonderful climate. next year, you know -- >> ross hates rainbows. let's go. >> mine is for clint eastwood. read the lines. i love you in the spaghetti westerns. dirty harry, you read the lines. leave the bit of improv to the professionals. >> didn't you like his biden line? >> it was all right. but it was surrounded by disconnection to reality. >> leave the improve to the professionals. >> guys, thank you very much.
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we'll be back here tomorrow. now back to wolf wiblitzer. >> so as democrats gather here in north carolina nor the national convention, they're greeted by a sobering new poll from this battleground state. i'm going to be joined by john king to talk about what that might mean for president obama. and later t actor, russell crowe, finds himself a little bit over his head while kayaking. and a u.s. coast guard is called in to help.
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and the former prime minister tony blair over the war in iraq. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room." lisa, what's going on? >> south african archbishop is calling for the international criminal court to take action against george w. bush and tony blair for fabricating evidence to invade iraq. he likens the former u.s. president and prime minister to playground bullies. blare replied in a statement on his website that several independent studies concluded he and bush did not lie. and yemen's government is facing angry protests over an alleged drone strike that killed 13 civilians in the country. al qaeda suspects were the target. and one senior defense official tells cnn that, quote, one of the very few times when it was completely missed. the pentagon is not commenting
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on reports. and actor russell crowe needed help from the coast guard. they called for help kayaking after nightfall. in a tweet russell crowe says they weren't lost, but ran out of daylight. so good to see. glad he's back on dry land. >> thanks, lisa. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, democrats are gathering for their convention right here in charlotte, north carolina. but they're shadowed by republicans sounding the battle cry, are you better off now than four years ago? reince priebus is here with me. once lumped together, iran and north korea now say they're
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teaming up on technology. could that mean missiles and nuclear weapons? plus, can bill clinton help baumgz when he needs it the most? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." they're getting ready for the opening of the democratic national committee convention nancy pelosi, the former speaker, now the mrnt leader of the house of represents. she's up on the stage with aids and friends. they did this last week at the republican convention as well. the speakers were able to get a feel for the room and arena and hopefully do an effective job speaking. so you see nancy pelosi there
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right w. we're covering what's going on here in charlotte, north carolina. this is a state president obama narrowly won four years ago. it's certainly a battleground right now. a new poll may give the democrats fresh cause for concern on this, the eve of the big event. let's begin our coverage with john king. john, tell u us about the new poll. >> as you noted, north carolina was one of the many red states that president obama turned blue in 2008. but here's what greets the democrats as they arrive here. it shows governor romney is leading 47 to 43%. that's within the margin of error. but both campaigns concede that he is ahead at the moment. the obama campaign says this is just about right. now what is driving this? we know the number one issue is the economy.
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which candidate do you trust to handle the economy? mitt romney getting the majority. the president at only 39%. we're in a southern state here. the republicans tend to do better in the south. many national polls, the president wins. but here in north carolina at the moment, a very slight edge for governor romney. so that's what is helping him. voters trust him more on the the economy. and this is definitely shaped by the republican convention as well. that governor romney is more in tune with their values, wolf. >> what do we need to look for in north carolina? what are you looking at specifically going ahead to november 6th? >> well gets go back to the state. that's president obama's strength. african-americans in the urban areas like charlotte, fayetteville, raleigh, that's a big part of his base. students are a big part of the base. and college educated women.
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i'm going to blank this for a second. watch up here and watch down in here. this is 2008. he was able to make end roads. president bush carried them in '04. this was the narrowest of victories between president obama and john mccain in a very big democratic year. >> show us how north carolina plays into the overall calculus as far as the election on november 6th is concerned. >> the democrats come here. and obviously they're concerned toee they're a little bit behind north carolina. but the advantage the president has is in the race to 270. he starts around 237. the light blue states are leaning the president's way. the lighter red is leaning his way. you have north carolina right
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now as a toss-up, as is virginia, another state. but the president can afford to lose this. governor romney can't. we can make this stay red. you can get the president to 270 in so many ways. the president can hold nevada. and the president can say, you have the chairman with you. we'll get to this in a moment. then the president would only have to win one of the big ones. and that would get the president over the the line sochlt the president's path to 270 is easier. that doesn't mean it's easy, but it's easier than governor romney. he could lose north carolina. he could lose virginia and still get to 270. if you're the romney campaign, you have to win florida. you have to win ohio. you have to win both north carolina and virginia zblchltd that's a big, big challenge. it's going to be very close. john, thanks very much. certainly as the democrats gather in north carolina, paul ryan appeared just a while ago on the other side of the state
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arguing americans are not better off than they were four years ago. >> america is better off today than they left us when they left. and if it weren't so hot, i would go into detail why i say it. let me sum it up this way, folks. you want to know why we're better off? i have a bumper sticker for you. osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive! osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive! all right. the gop set up a shop near the convention here in charlotte. they're ready to respond to whatever the democrats have to say and the republican national committee chairman reince
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priebus is among those here in charlotte. you were in tampa. now you're in charlotte. respond to the vice president. bin laden is dead. general moertds is alive. better off as a result of those two things? >> certainly it's good. >> and general motors is alive, too. >> and we're happy general motors is doing well. here's the deal. there's nothing better than going into a closing oorgt knowing the facts are on your side. now, they're not good facts. but obama can't hide from the truth of where we're at in the economy. debts and deficits are through the ears, coming oults, a president that ignored the budget process. a president and his party that didn't pass a budget in four years. the american people are hurting. the president gave grandiose
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promises layered with pixie dust and everything else. we're worse off than four years ago. she made the case the country is better off. you're making the case the country isn't better off. let's go through the numbers. >> sure. >> when president obama took office, 700,000 people ab month were losing their job. sometimes 800,000 people a month. the country was on the verge of a great depression. you remember what was going on in october of 2008. the economy wasn't in good shape. >> it was in terrible shape. but everything today is worse. we can't give barack obama a pass and say the economy wasn't in good shape and therefore it's an excuse to make everything worse. when he won in 2008, barack obama ran against and on the economy. he said the economy is no good.
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he said he would fix the economy. he would get people back to work. he campaigned against george bush and the economy. he won. either his answer now is i didn't appreciate how bad it was and i didn't understand what i was doing and/or i failed. it could be oo combination of both. >> objectively speaking, not everything is worse. >> the dow jones was under 7,000 when he took office. it's now over 13,000. many americans have money invested in stocks and 401(k). they're better off. they made a lot of money over the past four years in retirement plans and equities. >> and too many americans don't have the ruxry to worry about the status of the 401(k). the problem in america is people aren't working. there's a lot of people working
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but not making the money they should make. he hasn't been good at following through with promises. >> there's no doubt there's enormous economic problems. >> huge problems. but in terms of the overall picture, you remember what it was like when john mccain had to kangs el campaigning near the end of the campaign because the country was on the the verge of economic collapse. >> and barack obama said -- >> but he's not on the verge of economic collapse now. >> but he said he would get people working again. that if we passed the stimulus unemployment would be under 8%. that health care premiums would go down. everything in that regard, in all three of those areas, worse, worse, worse. what about the longer term? we have a today problem.
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but we have a two-year problem. that this president ignored. >> is the housing market better or worse than four years ago? >> it's worse. the president promised to sieve us from 7 million foreclosures across america. we've had nine million foreclosures since he became president of the united states. the problem is we can talk about the details and it's okay. the problem is he made promises in major league fashion. and all that comes back to hount you. if you're not, having the excuse is i couldn't possibly fulfill the promises because things were so bad, then don't make the promise. >> things were bad. let's talk about the new gallup poll. did the republican convention make your more or less likely to
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vote for romney? more likely 40%. less likely 38%. no difference, 22%. so it duoesn't look that you're going to get a huge bounce off this. >> we'll see what happens, wolf. you have three cycles a day. we got a bump out of paul ryan. i think we got a bump last week. i think it's let's get to know mitt at the national convention. the issue the president has is he can't climb anymore. he's got a ceiling. we don't are the same ceiling that president obama has. it's only going to be for the better. and we're going to be strong leading in the next two months. >> how does it feel to hang out with all the democrats? >> they love it over here. >> you're like a rock star. >> not quite. thanks for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> iran and north korea say
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they're working together on science and technology. does that mean nuclear weapons and missiles? also a fiery blast in pakistan as a car filled with explosives rams into a u.s. diplomatic vehicle. we have details on the attack. and some of the president's closest advisers talk about his role as a family man. we'll have a preview of tonight's new cnn documentary, obama revealed. in communities across the country. whether it's supporting a delaware nonprofit that's providing training and employment opportunities, investing in the revitalization of a neighborhood in the bronx, or providing the financing to help a beloved san diego bakery expand, what's important to communities across the country is important to us. and we're proud to work with all of those who are creating a stronger future for everyone.
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shriners hospitals have everything to do with that. i was in an accident. i was burned. i lost my hands, my feet. i really thought my life was over. shriners did a lot more than just heal me. they helped me put my whole life back together. caitlin's life is one of nearly a million changed by donations from people like you. send your love to the rescue. donate today. much more coming up from inside the time warner cable a are arena. we're here in charlotte, north carolina. we're ready for the start of the convention tomorrow. we saw the first lady of the united states up in the stage getting a feel for the room. we just saw nancy pelosi, the minority leader in the house of representatives up on the stage. we wonder who else will be showing up sooner, rather than later. standby. we'll show you all the the interesting pictures. but right now there's some other
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important news we're following as well. they've often been portrayed as members of the so called rogue gallery. but now iran and north korea have a new deal to team up on science antechnology, and that's raising serious concerns because the united states has long accused both of them of teeming up on advanced weapons. >> wolf, we're learning the north koreans will be able to give iran crucial help in developing a nuclear weapons capability. that might even make actually former president george w. bush seem prophetic relating to a speech he gave ten years ago that drew a lot of criticism at the time. they were two-thirds of a notorious list. >> north korea has a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens. iran aggressively pursues the weapons and exports terror. states like these and terrorist
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allies constitute an axis of evil. >> it got him accused of exaggerating threats and dest y destroying potential intelligence partnerships. now iranian media reports iran and north korea have signed a new deal and they are quoted as saying they have common enemies since the powers cannot bear independent governments. >> what does that mean to you? >> the fact that north korea's nuclear program is more advanced than iran's program. north korea is known to have a better program. >> the analyst of the rand corporation points out north korea has already helped iran acquire ballistic missile capability. now a former nuclear inspector tell us north korea could help
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the iranians tap into a new market to them accelerate the the program further. the new market, china. iran denied its pursuing nuclear weapons, but recent reports say another indication that a program is moving ahead. the mysterious scientist named mohsen fakrizadeh. he's like the fizz zest who headed the push for a nuclear bomb in the 1940s. experts say he drew into the shadows after the funding was cut a few years ago. according to an iaea report he now runs a facility north of iran there are no photos ready available. the iranians have stone walled u.s. nuclear officials from gaining access to him. nadir says there's a reason
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they're shielding him. >> he's a prime target for assassination. so we would assume he's under heavy protection. >> that's a reference to at least three iranian nuclear scientists killed in recent years by a method. assailants placed bombs on the cars on the way to work. wolf, it was a strange display, but pretty powerful, as you can see. >> very strange indeed. what's the latest about how soon the iranians could acquire what's called a deliverable nuclear weapon. >> we spoke to david albright who knows quite a lot about this. he says iran could develop that in no more than two years time. if that want to break out, they could do this in a couple of
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months but they also know they might get bombed if they do that. >> sensitive issue indeed. brian, thanks very much. president obama warms up with a few licks before heading right here to charlotte. telling a crowd watching the convention was like watching nick at night. we'll deconstruct the joke in the strategy session. standby. and labor day weekend. people having fun at a monster struck show when suddenly things go very, very wrong. great shot.
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attack in pakistan and confusion in the aftermath. li lisa sylvester is monitoring
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that and other top stories. what's going on? >> the state department says no u.s. employees were killed in today's bomb attack on a u.s. counselor van in pakistan. a spokeswoman says two u.s. personnel and two pakistani staff members were injured and are now receiving medical treatment. but pakistani officials say two pakistanis were killed and 25 were wounded when a car loaded with explosives slammed into the van. and the secret service says it has found a stolen uhaul carrying equipment for a labor day rally with president biden. and agents say the rest appear to be accounted for in the truck. and the holiday weekend took a dangerous turn at a monster truck show on saturday. take a look at these pictures. a speeding truck goes out of control, clears a barricade and careens into the crowd. three people were injured. but just take a look at that.
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amazingly, though, none of the injuries were life threatening. no charges were filed. and the event continued on for the next day. three people injured. none of those injuries life threatening. something else, wolf. >> yeah, kouchb could have been a whole lot worse. lisa, thank you. so will the former president go all out for president obama over the next two months or focus on turbing potentially the hillary clinton kacandidacy coming up. and jeff bridges entertains the crowd with a guitar playing governor. you know why i sell tools? tools are uncomplicated.
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let's get to our strategy session. our cnn political contributors are here with me in charlotte, north carolina. the democratic strategist james carville and republican strategist alex castellanos. thanks for coming up to the sky box. bill clinton will be the featured speaker wednesday night. the man you work for. you know him quite well. you admire him, even though you never worked for him. ryan lizza, our cnn contributor, fascinating piece in the new issue entitled let's be friends. among other things he writes this. president clinton's associations take it as a given that he would like nothing more than to see his wife become president. hillary clinton will step down as secretary of state after the campaign and begin the process of deciding whether she will run in 2016. by some measures a defeat for obama in november would leave hillary the undisputed leader of the party and propel her for the oval office that much faster. james, you're smiling.
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why? >> by the way, we're not rubio and chris christie. we have until 2012 convention. and i don't know that in terms of the democrats if president clinton, which i saw him do in a spot for president obama today on az actions on espn. why does that not help her if it's perceived as somebody that helped the party keep the white house? i'm not sure i understand the logic of it. >> but you're leaving open the possibility she could run in 2016. >> i hope she does. of course i do. i don't have any idea what she's going to do. >> i suspect she will as well. she would like to be the first woman president. >> right. >> as a very wise man, james carville said once, nobody ever runs for president just once. but that's all the more reason, if people do want hillary clinton to run for the clintonites to do everything
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they can for barack obama this time. that is what helped her the most. if he loses, he loses. they can't be seen as halfhearted contributors. bill clinton is on the air. republicans shouldn't underestimate the power of bill clinton. he doesn't have to do it with words. he doesn't have to say i love barack obama. he's great. he's terrific. just his presence is a huge gift for barack obama. >> she can't be here as a sitting secretary of state or a sitting secretary of defense or a sitting secretary of treasury, she can't be seen as overtly involved. she's in indonesia. >> probably glad to be there. >> some democrats are a little bit concerned. even as the so popular bill clinton could go off message and could say something to hurt the president, and do you think that's possible? >> you know, look, i live in a world, understand that anything is possible. i will be betting very heavily that he doesn't. and i'll be giving very good odds.
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i don't think he's going to do that at all. no reason to think that. i think he's excited about the speech. i think he's working hard on it. >> i would be very surprised if he did. i think he's going to stick to taxes. but there's a difference between barack obama and bill clinton. bill clinton is a new democrat. he moved the party to the center. barack obama moved it to the left. bill clinton declared the era of big government is over. barack obama said this is the era of bigger government. how do they resolve that? what is bill clinton going to say when he's asked. >> he's already on the air talking about how romney wants to go back to the george bush policy. and obama is investing and doing the things to bring the country forward. he's going to talk about that in the speech. the same thing he's talking about in this spot. and i think he's going to come out strongly. >> the president gave a preview of what he's likely to say. one of the themes here in charlotte, alex. listen to this. >> despite all the the
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challenges that we face in this new century, we saw three straight days of an agenda out of the last century. it was a rerun. the you might as well have watched it on black and white tv. with some rabbit ears on there. should have been on nick at night. >> good line. >> it's a good line, and it's a good political point. barack obama can't run this election on the the present. the economy is not in good shape. all he's saying is don't go back. don't go back to bush. this is going to be the third or fourth election they have run against bush. but mitt romney does have a challenge. he has to say, no, no, the person who hasn't changed washington is you, barack obama. you've made it bigger, larger, more expensive. here's what i'm going to do to turn washington on its head. i'm going to sell every other government building. i'm going to replace most of
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washington with three good websites. i'm going to bring change and you haven't. >> i think the president is wrong. he has too go back to this the early part of this century. if they had gone back to bush's foreign policy and the social policy. his speech, romney's speech was right down the line. and i think the democrats will do it. we'll run against george w. bush 20 years from now. how long was it -- the republicans are still running against jimmy carter. i mean, how long -- that was 32 years ago. so 32 years -- >> the republicans do have a different idea, and a new idea. and that's the same dollar can't be in two places, wolf. it can't be in washington and, you know, wast washington is going to send it to you. we have to take dollars from washington and put them in the american people's pocket. that's a chang we have to do coming up in ten years. this is the change the republicans have to put on the table.
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>> bush created 20 million jobs. they want to go back to this the bush policies. the country, you decide. twho do you think was better for the country? bill clinton or george w. bush? >> good question. and are you better off today than four years ago? don't answer that question. we need something to talk about. >> i am. i'm on cnn. >> you better haoff than four years ago? >> i am. we're not losing 750,000 jobs. gm is alive. bin laden is dead. >> do you want to know what it's really like to experience the democratic national convention if from the inside tomorrow? join the cnn election round table with me and cnn's political team. submit your questions and get answer realtime in this live virtual chat. log onto cnn.com/roundtable for
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all the information you need to know. president, politician, father and husband, and fierce co competitor. jessica yellin sets out to tans the question, who is barack obama? plus, hundreds dying daily and who is the man behind the camera risking his life to get the story out? our own arwa damon is on the story for us. ♪ it means cleaner, cheaper american-made energy. but we've got to be careful how we get it. design the wells to be safe. thousands of jobs. use the most advanced technology to protect our water. billions in the economy. at chevron, if we can't do it right, we won't do it at all. we've got to think long term. we've got to think long term. ♪
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looking at air force one touchdown in new orleans.
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we just confirmed that the louisiana governor bobby jindal will join the president on a walking tour of st. john the baptist parish. the president will make a statement there later. we'll have coverage of that here on cnn. so the president now is in louisiana. mitt romney was there on friday. also got a tour from bobby jindal, the louisiana governor. other news we're following including tough words from syria's administration. he's warn if any nation tries to set a buffer zone inside syria, and i'm quoting now, we will cut their arm off. and the violence rages on. more than 200 people died today alone. arwa damon shows us this amazing video who spends time in one town. not far from the lebanese border. a warning, some images you're about to see are disturbing.
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>> every night he scrolls through the videos he shot that day, reviewing scenes he wishes he had never witnessed. it's a routine that he's addicted to. he simply can't stop, can't let go, can't give up. for the past 18 months he's documented nearly every single death in a town of some 50,000 before the violence started. name, date, location. more than 400 victims and counting. often they are his neighbors, friends, relatives, people he would see around town and once he pointed the camera at his brother's corpse. i didn't know my brother was the first one.
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after i come also i take some photos of the other one. the start of the shoot, my brother, my brother, my brother, but after, normal. i'm sad also. i'm angry. but after normal. >> the 37-year-old once owned a furniture shop. now he's part of a small team of media activists. filming and posting online the horrific videos that have come to symbolize the syrian uprising. most of the residents have fled. but the shelling still takes a toll on the the few who remain.
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those who have nowhere else to go. in the last few weeks this 8-year-old girl was killed by a mortar round. there was nothing the medical team could do but try to hide the wound to spare her mother the anguish. she collapses when she hears the news. at time he tries to console families, reassuring this woman that her son is going to be okay, that he will survive the wounds. occasionally he hands over the camera so he can help. but too often, there is nothing he can do but film. much of it lies in ruins, similar to most of what we see across syria. the people resigned to their fate, knowing that they are on their own. the hospital regularly targeted is trying to build up defenses.
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this man who works in construction is building a bunker for his family. his children take a quick peek into the darkness below. perhaps this will save them. perhaps it will be their grave. is is his younger brother is now a rebel fighter. he was a mechanic who wanted to be a dj. he plays music as they trawl the fate of a media activist friend. detained by syrian security forces and returned to him with his eyes gouged out. i catch the camera like this. and i throw it.
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♪ >> that report from cnn's arwa damon in beirut. a very disturbing look at what we're seeing increasingly every single day. more and more horrors. every day life in syria. ba obama revealed. the president and his closest aides are talking about his life as a family man and what it was like to be raised by a single parent and his grandparents. tonight's new cnn documentary "obama revealed." we've worked hard to keep it. bp has paid over twenty-three billion dollars to help people and businesses who were affected, and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open for everyone to enjoy -- and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. we've shared what we've learned with governments and across
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family life is extremely important to president obama, and we see that side of him in our brand new cnn documentary, "obama revealed." our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin interviewed the president and his closest aides. watch this little preview. >> i hear that suggestion that he has trouble connecting, but i just don't see it. i think a lot of people have trouble connecting with people
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in washington. >> a politician has to be sort of imbalanced. bill clinton was imbalanced. you know, so he needed those strangers. so he would spend the hours between 6:00 and 9:00 talking to people in congress. whereas president obama is basically with his family during those hours, is sort of a balanced thing to do but not necessarily good for a president. >> when we're in town here in washington, in the evenings, 6:30, we want to be at the dinner table with our kids. i want to be helping with their homework. i think that's sometimes interpreted as me not wanting to you know, be out there the slapping backs and wheeling and dealing. it has more to do with just the is taken we are in our lives. >> if you're re-elected, your girls will be older. they'll probably have their own weekend plans and might not want to hang out withom and dad. >> it's starting to happen, yeah. >> do you think you might do more outreach, back slapping with members of congress? >> my hope is getting past this
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election, people will have an opportunity to maybe step back and say, you know what, the differences that divide us aren't as important as the common bonds we have as americans. and some of that i'm sure will require additional effort on my part. hopefully, we'll see more effort on the other side, as well. >> though being a family man isn't always an asset in office, it is a priority for the president. >> you have to remember, this is someone who grew up raised by a single mom and his grandparents whose father abandoned him. he's lived with that kind of missing piece in him. and at a very young age, he decided he wasn't going to be the kind of father he had. he wanted to be a present father. >> and a present husband. >> he's a guy who really loves his wife. she's obviously a great source of personal strength to him. >> she keeps me straight every single day. she is the best mom in the world.
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and she's cute. >> michelle obama's role has been to keep him grounded. to make sure his ego isn't a macy's float that takes off. >> those who know him best say the president is a fierce competitor at any level. >> you coach your daughter's basketball team. >> there you go. that's sasha's team. the vipers. this has been so much fun. >> i don't coach them full-time. i'm sort of like an assistant coach adviser. >> so what does the president's own game say about his leadership style. >> he's a competitor. sometimes you get a bad call but
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you can't overextend too much emotion worrying about what just happened. from an efficiency standpoint, you know, you can cry about the call. or you can look to the next play. >> and jessica is here. i haven't seen it yet. i'm really looking forward to it, p.m. eastern tonight. you get into other themes, as well. as the a 90-minute documentary. >> yeah, we talk about the partisan gridlocking in washington and what part of that president obama shoulders, what part republicans shoulder. it was a big campaign promise that he would unitent washington. talked with him and speaker boehner about the debt deal and some of the tactics on the war on terror or is he calls it the hunt for al qaeda and bin laden. >> you worked really hard on this 90-minute documentary. >> i did. >> you were invisible. >> i was working, i wear, getting interviews. >> i'm really looking forward to this. thanks so much for doing it. i know viewers will be happy, as
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well. here's important information you need to know. stay with cnn for this brand new documentary. it premieres, obama revealed airing tonight 8:00 p.m. eastern. you can see romney revealed, gloria borger's excellent documentary that will air right after "the situation room" at 6:30 p.m. eastern tonight. two excellent documentaries. the democratic squengs heating up. and it hasn't even started yet. it begins tomorrow but includes interesting musical guests that will be playing here. also, system musical guests already playing at carolina fest. we're going there. stay with us. we believe small things can make a big difference. like how a little oil from here can be such a big thing in an old friend's life. we discovered that by blending enhanced botanical oils into our food, we can help brighten an old dog's mind so he's up to his old tricks. it's just one way purina one is making the world a better place...
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. while democratic convention planners put the final touches on the big show that starts tomorrow, today's carolina fest is winding down here in charlotte. the street festival kicking off the democratic convention brought in diverse music and a diverse crowd. cnn's joe johns is there. >> this is the intersection of trade and tiron in charlotte, north carolina. the very center of the queen city. we wanted to take you on a little tour down the street of what is basically a political state fair. the only thing about it, it represents only one party. the democrats. this is where all the advocacy groups have set up shop. you see a few nonpartisan groups like the uso right there, but most of them are firmly representing and supporting the president. like the afl-cio. >> what's the wheel with the
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deal. we are doing a wheel for equality. we're going to give you a wristband. all our participants are signing a petition we sent to congressional leaders in support of gay marriage. so they're all agreeing to sign the petition so that we can send that information and get a free prize. >> charlotte is the hometown of nascar. this entire street festival originally was supposed to be out at the charlotte motor speedway, but they moved it downtown. this car, the dnc 2012 dodge charger, was supposed to be a part of that celebration. they just brought it here. this is kind of an outdoor food court. if you look that way, you get a sense of the size of the crowd. it's just huge. this is north carolina. so you see a lot of barbecue, smoked turkey legs and right over here, dan the pig man. >> may i present jeff bridges. >> and finally, the big stage behind me featuring performers who are also supporters of democratic causes like janell monay, james taylor, jeff
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bridges introduced by politicians who also happen to be big names in the party ♪ i don't know where we stand ♪ baby i don't know . >> joe johns reporting. and happening now, we're counting down to the democratic national convention. some of the party's biggest names are arriving, including the first lady, michelle obama. and out of the campaign trail, a battle of the running mates, sharp dueling speeches by joe biden and paul ryan. plus, the race to win the nascar vote. why president obama is laps behind, at least right now. i'm wolf blitzer. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com we're live here at the time warner cle arena in charlotte, north carolina where democrats are coming together to make their case for a second term for
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president obama. the convention officially opens tomorrow, and the president is making his way here on a campaign swing dubbed "the road to charlotte." which right now is winding through louisiana as he sees the impact of hurricane isaac firsthand. our white house correspondent dan lothian is traveling with the president and joining us now live from new orleans. dan, what is the president doing right now in new orleans? >> well, the president headed to st. john the baptist parish just west of downtown new orleans. the president will be getting briefed by both state and local officials, including governor bobby jindal who at one time had been considered a potential running mate for mitt romney. the president meeting with him. we'll be taking a walking tour of an area impacted by hurricane isaac. this is an area that really has been hit hard and continues to have some difficulties in the wake of the storm. some 2700 people here in louisiana are in shelters, some six deaths have been connected to hurricane isaac.
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so the president, as you pointed out, came here to see the damage, the devastation up close. and also get a sense of what officials are doing to recover from that storm, wolf. >> he was in ohio earlier and had some very tough words to say about his opponents. update us on that. >> reporter: well, that's right. the president in the battleground state of ohio whereby he's visited some 11 times so far this year talking about how his policies have helped the middle class, how mitt romney and paul ryan's policies and plans are only for wealthy americans. but the president taking a swipe at republicans and their national convention saying they offered new ideas and then he offered up his own analogy to counter criticism from mitt romney that it's time for the country to get a new coach. the president using terms like unnecessary roughness and a hail mary as part of the romney/ryan economic playbook because the president said their ideas on medicare and also their tax
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plans are flawed. >> and i've got one piece of advice for you about the romney/ryan game plan, ohio. punt it away. it won't work. it won't win the game. you don't need that coach. that's a losing season. >> now, before showing up at that rally today in toledo, ohio, the president stopped off at a deli where he had breakfast with three autoworkers and later was touting what his administration has done top turn the auto industry around. as you know, wolf, that is key to voters in the state of ohio because the auto industry really has a big impact there directly indirectly in the income and the economy of that state, wolf. >> dan lothian in new orleans traveling with the president. thanks very much. let's get more now on the
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president. kate bolduan is with us. welcome. great to have you back. >> good to be here with the whole team. >> she's going to be here all week in charlotte. candy crowley will be here all week. glor gloria, we'll all be here all week having a real good time. candy, first to you. >> we keep telling ourself that. >> celebrating the democrats tuesday, wednesday, thursday. thursday night the big speech. but you know what happens friday morning, the new jobs report comes out. we'll know what the unemployment rate is, how many jobs were created or lost for that matter. that could put a damper on what we've been seeing here. >> let me argue differently here. and say i don't think it will. we have seen not great jobs figures, week after week. they've been around the same place. not horrible news sometimes. but not great news. there's been some, you know, sometimes there's 80,000 jobs created. sometimes it's 120,000. so it's never great. i think people have already factored this in. those numbers for the president
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and mitt romney haven't moved. i mean, through all of those, and yes, the economy matters. but i think that's already people have already put that in their database for here's what the situation is. and they know that already because it just hasn't pushed any of the numbers. >> gloria, let's keep talking about the economy. in the final stretch as we push through post convention into the final stretch to november, a lot of the talk is of their supposed strengths and how they're doing in terms of their supposed strengths. so how do you think they are doing? we're talking about economy and changing the way washington worked for obama. >> neither of these candidates is actually doing as well as he should be doing in certain areas. recent "wall street journal" poll, who has bet are ideas to il prove the economy. mitt romney is ahead. 44-38. lots of people are saying okay, if the economy is so bad, you've got a three-point margin of error there, if the economy is so bad, why isn't mitt romney doing even better on the
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economic question in then take a look at this question. who would do a better job at changing washington. well, that was president obama's argument. he had the corner on the change market. it looks like he does not anymore have that. romney 37%. so he has succeeded in becoming the outsider and now it looks like president obama for better or worst is the insider who hasn't been able to changing. >> i think all of these show how close it is. president obama got that number last time around because i thought, here's somebody that can bring everyone together. yet, where mitt romney polls badly, people don't seem to think he gets them. we talk about this last week. we have a race that's come down to competence. we see romney scoring better who has ideas versus compassion. and we see president obama doing well on the who cares about the middle class, who relates more to people, who understands you
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better. that is to me where it's going. >> does especially much better with women. >> that's what the last convention was about. i've never seen so many women role models. >> just i wait. we're going to get more today. >> you'll see a lot of women and a lot of bill clinton here on wednesday night. the relaonship between bill clinton and barack obama, candy, talk about that. >> well, let's see. bill clinton's wife ran against him. where to begin is right. at this moment, bill clinton is a partyman. he is the go-to guy. he's the most popular living ex-president. he goes across the board with swing voters, but the base loves him. but i think more importantly, for this convention, and yes, it's to the base and yes it's to the swing votes. he can make that connection in terms of stick with him. because he can say remember the good old days and those he would think were the clinton years. you can argue there was a dotcom bubble and housing bubble and that's what we paid for in 2000. but people look back and think very well of the clinton years,
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at least the democrats do. he handed them a surplus when george bush took over. so he can say i did this and that's what president obama is doing. so he leaps over the bush years and says so stick with him because that's where he's headed. >> i think there's a danger though. bill clinton is such a great speaker, right? huge fabulous speaker. >> in different forums. >> right, but -- >> smaller crowds. >> but in watching bill clinton describe, for example, why health care reform was necessary, bill clinton very often makes the case for president obama better than president obama has made the case for himself. so we might -- you know, we might see that. he's been very good on that. he also goes off script sometimes. he won't go off script here. you can be sure. you can be -- >> but -- >> no, no, he will not go off script. remember he talked about romney's stellar business career and how maybe this wasn't the right time to take away the tax cuts for the rich and so. >> any concern he's going to steal the show? >> no. >> overshadow?
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>> i think different nights. >> different forums. remember, here's where bill clinton is going to be and president obama will be over in that arena with 75,000 people and he is still the president. no one ever said he couldn't deliver a speech. he's going to deliver a good one. >> they're both good speakers. >> i'll wrap up this excellent conversation by just pointing out one thing. my opinion that as much as bill clinton will energize the base and help this president try to help this president get reelected, what really would have helped him more is if hillary clinton could have been here, she's in indonesia right now on official business and not supposed to come to these events. >> she couldn't get far enough away. >> i suspect she may be even more popular out there than her husband at this point. >> she surely is. >> she is very popular. >> because he's not in politics. >> he's got a 66% approval rating. >> let's see what happens in 2016. >> oh, boy. one note, wolf. >> and you know who else is going to really help the president this week? michelle obama is speaking
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tomorrow night. don't go away. the first lady, michelle obama,ing will -- was in the arena a little while ago and did a walk-through of the arena drawing applause and clears from those already inside and acknowledged them with a nice wave and smile. the first lady also got to try out the podium where she'll deliver her big speech to the convention tomorrow night. she's getting a little feel for this room. mitt romney talks about his faith in ways he never has before. at least in the public. our cnn special documentary "romney revealed" coming up, an encore edition right at the bottom of the hour. gloria borger's excellent 90-minuten documentary. later tonight at 8:00 p.m., obama revealed. the president of the united states goes one-on-one with.jessica yellin. her documentary starts premieres at 8:00 p.m. eastern. straight ahead, paul ryan and joe biden are both out there on the campaign trail today. we're going to hear what they're saying as this race for the
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white house heats up. >> you want to know whether we're better off? i got a little bumper sticker for you. oh sawm la bin laden is dead and generalen motors is alive. (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern. one line, infinite possibilities.
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my life would be completely different. they gave me my future back. send your love to the rescue. donate to shriners hospitals, today. like millions of americans, mitt romney's spent part of this labor day out on the water. the republican presidential nominee and his wife boated to a marina near his home in wolfboro, new hampshire, where they also picked up a skidoo that had been in repairs. mrs. romney rode it home. there she is. pretty cool. the republican running mate paul ryan was in the democrats' backyard here in north carolina. the state where the democrats will hold the convention this week. ryan spoke at a rally at east carolina university where he compared president obama to the last one-term democratic president, jimmy carter. >> friends, there's a little gathering going on over in
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charlotte. you heard about this? now, we know that your governor's over there and your lieutenant governor and we also know that president obama is over there. and president obama is going to be giving a big speech. and there are going to be a lot of speeches, lots of words. let me quote president obama four years ago. if you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what barack obama is doing today. you see, the president has no record to run on. in fact, every president since the great depression who asked americans to send them into a second term could say that you are better off today than you were four years ago except for jimmy carter, and for president
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barack obama. >> the vice president joe biden was campaigning in detroit. countering the republicans' main charge against the president saying, indeed, americans are better off under this president. >> and look, folks, we know who built this country. and we know who's going to rebuild it. it's you. and instead of vilifying you, we should be thanking you. we owe you. ladies and gentlemen, you, organized labor, are one of the reasons why this is country is coming back. folks, lets me make something clear and say to the press. america is better off today than they left us when they left. and if it weren't so hot, if it
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weren't so hot, i'd go into detail why i say it. let me sum it up this way. you want to know whether we're better off. i got a little bumper sticker for you. osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive! osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive! osama bin laden is dead and general motors is alive! >> said it three tiles, kate. i think he's going to say it plenty more between now and november. >> that's not the last we've heard that. >> pretty good line. >> it's a good line but democrats seem to have a bit of a hiccup in answering that were you better off. we'll see. >> make the case. they are called nascar voters. president obama is laps behind mitt romney when it comes to winning their support. and the controversial book about the raid that killed osama bin
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get you caught up on headlines we're watching. an oscar nominated actor has died. michael clarke duncan got a nod from the academy for the film "the green mile." i'm sure you remember that face. a spokeswoman says he died today at a los angeles hospital where he's been suffering, he had suffered a heart attack back on
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july 13th. standing 6'5", he was known not only for his size but also his very deep voice. michael clarke duncan was 54 years old. well wishes to his family. a car packed with explosives slammed into the consulate vehicle setting off a huge blast that injured two consulate staff members inside. we're talking about pakistan here. the explosion also killed two pakistanis, two pakistanis and injured more than two dozen people nearby. it happened in the city of peshawar about 120 miles west of the pakistani capital of islamabad. also we're watching the controversial tell-all book about the raid that killed osama bin laden. we've been talking about it a lot. it's already topping amazon's best seller list. preorders for "no easy day" by former fave seal matt bissonette have now surpassed "" 50 shades of grey."" the pentagon has threatened
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league action. he writes under the pen name mark owen. that book is getting a lot of attention, wolf. >> the initial printing was like 750,000 hard copies. >> they moved up ahead the date they were going to publish it. >> they're the voters that president obama just can't seem to catch. we're talking about the nascar fans. especially important here in north carolina. how the obama campaign is targeting these voters is coming up.
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to the nascar hall of fame, this is the epicenter for the hard-driving engine-revving sport. while nascar consists of a whole lot of left turns, the typical nascar voter steers to the right. winston kelly is the head of the hall of fame and a radio commentator. this might not always be the most suppoeriorive group for hi >> nascar has been more republican but north carolina is very much a swing state. >> who is your driver? >> probably dale junior. >> stephen elliott happens to be visiting during convention week. >> i'm a little disan pint 0ed. he came in with a big fanfare and with a lot of hope and promise. i don't think he will fulfilled a lot of those hopes and dreams that he was talking about. i think he let a lot of people down. >> but the obama campaign isn't banking on voters like elliott. they've long been considered out of reach for the democratic party. and in the last four years, he's lost even more ground.
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>> the president is facing significant decline. especially with those blue collar white men. they have been the toughest audience for him from the outset. but the numbers are getting really bad, possibly the lowest for any democratic nominee in possibly 40 years. >> exit polls from 2008 show 57% of white males voted for john mccain. 41% for obama. the latest numbers from this summer show the president has slipped 8 percentage points more with this group. that means he has to increasingly rely on voter who's tends to be in his quarter, hispanic, black and young voters and especially women. >> it was almost impossible for them to make a change in four years. so i think the next four years why not give him another chance to see what he can do for the middle class. >> i voted for president obama. and i'll vote for him again because i don't think that he's had enough time to correct the damage done by the republican
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party. soapy just feel that you know, he needs the time. >> this coalition of voters holds the key to victory for president obama if he can persuade them to turn out in big numbers. and he sure is trying. >> i'm counting on you. i'm counting on you. i'm counting on you. if you're not registered to vote, then you've got to go to got to register.com. >> that is the big challenge. even with nascar voters who will overwhelmingly support mitt romney. nascar enthusiasts are more concerned about who wins the election in november or who's going to win the cup? >> who wins the sprint cup. no question about it. >> there are some interesting parallels between nascar and politics. the nascar season wraps up in november, as well. and guess who the final race of the season is that could decide it all? florida. a key battleground state.
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wolf? >> brianna keilar, thanks very much. thee loves nascar. >> if i had to pick a favorite, i'm in andy 500. >> you grew in indiana. >> home state. yeah, exactly. >> thanks very much. that's it for us. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." obama revealed, cnn's special look at the president of the united states premieres tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern. but first, a look at his opponent romney revealed starts right now. >> a man born to wealth. privilege. and politics. >> i'm mitt romney, and i'm running for president of the united states. >> i think my dad has always felt like he wanted to be true to his dad's name and legacy. >> a savvy businessman who made a fortune at bain capital and turned around the 2002 winter olympics. >> he has twos speeds. asleep or wide awake and fixing things. >> good to see you. >> he is a mr. fix it. >> a man driven by faith in
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himself, his family, and his mormon religion. >> you try your very best to know what god might say and, of course, you look to get direction from the church, as well. >> a warm, caring man. >> he was going to do anything he could to just say i'm here. just stay right there. and we'll be okay. >> or a cold calculating politician. >> he's made decisions knowing that they could resurface 30 years hence under the glare of the political campaign. >> mitt romney isn't pro-choice. he's not anti-choice. he's multiple choice. >> a political opportunist. >> he changed his position on a broad range of issues for a simple reason. he wanted to run for president of the united states. >> or a true believer. >> i know his core, honesty, decency, intelligence, conviction to do the right thing. >> now, romney revealed, family it, faith, and the road to power.
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♪ ann and mitt romney's summer home sits on lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire, a private, large and lived in family retreat for the entire clan. all 28 of them. >> they all just left. a lot of them left last night. i ran through 12 loads this morning. >> a lot of towels, a lot of sheets. but its a joyous thing to have them all here. >> even in the midst of a presidential campaign. >> tell me a little bit about the mitt romney that's here at the lake. >> nonstop. nonstop. he is going every minute. he's loving it. he pops out of bed the first thing in the morning and he's just going. >> here inside the lake house, romney is more camp counselor than candidate. >> fun-loving, warm, spontaneous, get him out of the public eye, put him in here, he is as loose and funny and
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spontaneous as you'd ever want to see and just so much fun to be with. >> so what happens when you get in the public eye? you know, you have to just be more circumexpect, more careful with your words. you know, you just have to be very, very careful, and it's unfortunate i think that even you know people i think probably only think of mitt maybe through his business lens. and for me, you know, that is just 1% of who he is. >> and who is he really? first and foremost, a romney. >> the romney name has been in the public eye for the last half century. a family of great wealth and business achievement. political success as well as failures. ♪ mitt was the fourth and last child for george and lenore romney, born march 12th, 1947, some recall him as the favorite. george wrote to the family in
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september 1956. mitt is growing like a weed, is full of ideas and energy as ever. tom mccaffrey grew up with romney. >> mitt as a child was extremely energetic. the kind of kid that could never sit down. his mind was going 100 miles an hour. >> george was much the same way. you know, he's just -- he's got that energy. >> phillip maxwell lived down the street from the romneys in a wealthy detroit suburb. >> george would go go out on the golf course and he had fluore e fluorescent golf balls and he would hit the ball and he would run after the ball jogging. hit the ball again. and that was his exercise. >> young mitt not only had his father's energy. >> there seems to be a special bond between george and mitt. >> michael kranish and scott helman co-wrote the book "the real romney." >> mitt absolutely idolized his
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father in a way that you can see drawn out in the way he's run his life following the same footsteps of the career. >> george romney was a ceo who saved american motors by beth on smaller cars. it gave his son a first look at business. >> george was a turnaround artist at american motors taking a company that had lost focus or for whatever reason and fixing it. >> and once george made his mark in the auto world, he switched gears. to politics. he was the republican governor of michigan for three terms. and young mitt was a fixture on the campaign trail. schooled early in issues, strategies, and the possibility of losing. >> and dad's pollster said george, you can't possibly win and you know, i was a kid in high school and i thought oh, no, we're going to lose. i'm going to be embarrassed at school. these little things that a kid thinks and my dad said, it was clear. he said i'm not in this because i worry about winning or losing.
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i'm here to make a difference. he's not defines by elections. he's been defined as a man of character throughout his life. >> reporter: and then there was mitt's mother lenore. >> my mom had a softer side. she used to read to me when i was a boy and gave me a love of culture and literature. >> reporter: once a screen actress, lenore met george in 1924. their courtship became an often told part of the family story. >> he left what he was doing and traveled west to hollywood to try to convince her to marry him as opposed to going into the movie business. and he just -- he knew what he wanted and was not going to stop until he got it. >> mitt's courtship of ann was in its own way noess intense. they were just teenagers at neighboring elite private schools in detroit. it was mitt's senior year when he spotted the 16-year-old ann davies at a dance. >> i did fall madly in love with
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him. very quickly actually. but i was very aloof, very cool. >> she was very smart. she set the hook deep. and i'd call and say let's get together. she was too busy. she went on a date with someone else while i was pursuing her. made me just crazy. >> he was so much fun. captivating. it was just fun, fun, fun to be with him. >> there are lots of stories of good-natured practical jokes. >> but at cranbrook, he was kind of swimming around trying to find his place. one you of the consequences was that he would get involved in these pranks which were really attention-getting devices. >> but maxwell remembers one incident he says crossed the line. a younger classmate returned from break with long bleach blonde hair and a group of guys including romney confronted him. >> he was taken down and mitt had scissors and he cut his hair. it was an ugly scene, and it was
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a long time ago. but i'll never forget it because of the look on this boy's face. he was absolutely terrified when they took him down. >> others as you know who went to cranbrook with you remember some different stories that they say were over the top and maybe even cruel to some students. do you remember it that way? >> no, i don't. and i know that comes up during the campaign season. but it's the first time i've heard that. >> the haircutting story. >> i think that's the only story i've heard of that nature, but you know, the pranks that we pulled were designed to be funny and to have fun. i can imagine that now and then, things i did in high school are not things i'd want to become part of a presidential campaign. >> that was decades ago, one incident when romney was a teenager without focus and direction. something he would find later in a very surprising place.
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it was fall, 1965. stanford university. the counter culture movement was growing. a different world for freshman mitt romney, straight from a michigan boarding school and his conservative roots. >> he has this exposure i think to all these new ideas, all these new people. these new experiences. >> but all romney could think about at first was ann back in michigan.
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mark marcus was romney's roommate. >> a lot of guys have come to college and had high school guy ofs. but you could tell for mitt it was different. he could not stop talking about ann. >> we were so much in love. i went off to college. and i got a job there to earn a little money so i could pay for an airplane ticket to go home and see her. i didn't tell my parents. >> this is at stanford. >> while i was at stanford. we didn't tell my parents about this. >> so you snuck home? >> i flew home, snuck home and would take her on a date. now, her parents knew about it. they were on the inside. but my parents i knew they'd never go along with it so i didn't tell them. >> did they catch you. >> oh, no, they never caught us. >> but as the year wore on, the politics on campus became inescapable. >> he's very affected by this world in which he sees an anti-establishment strain growing. >> as the protests at stanford grew, romney stood with the establishment and for the war.
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>> his father at that time was strongly for the vietnam war. and he was finding his political footing, really the first time we see mitt romney emerge as his own man in the political sense is when he does lead this protest against the anti-war protesters on the campus of stanford. he's standing up with a sign saying speak out, don't sit-in. >> but romney never went to vietnam himself. exempt as a student and with a high draft lottery number. >> he's protesting the anti-war protesters but he does not volunteer to go be in vietnam. he would have been eligible to serve, certainly. >> at the end of his freshman year, romney would be called to be, not his country but his faith. as a mormon missionary in france. it was a tradition he considered breaking. >> he was concerned, according to his friends, that he might lose ann and so he talked to ann about this, and she told him you know, if you don't go, you'll
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always regret it and i'll be here. >> and when he left, i had a very brave face. went to the airport with his entire family. we all said good-bye. i was driven home with his family and then i walked into my home, opened the door, my mother was there. i fell flat on the ground in just dissolved in tears and she could not console me. >> for two and a half years in the turbulent '60s, romney was living abroad, working every day to convert the skeptical french to his mormon faith. so this is the kind of neighborhood that you used to knock on doors in. >> this. >> all day. >> yes, 45 years ago. yeah, it was -- i mean this is fairly typical. >> mike bush took us back to the streets of bordeaux where he and romney spent 60 hours a week spreading their faith in french. >> did eventual a specific message? >> we will, well, we would talk
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to them about our beliefs, about jesus christ, abt the book of mormon. >> you're out to speaking with people day in and day out about your faith and about your religion and differences between it and other faiths. >> getting doors slammed in your face. >> most of the time. this was a time when a lot of people were not happy with america in france and it was a time of rejection. >> but romney kept at it in a rare conversation about his faith, he reveals how the constant rejection led to some surprising soul searching. >> but you say okay, wait a second. what's important here? what do i believe? what's truth? is there a god? is jesus christ the son of god? these are questions that are no longer academic. they're critical because you're talking about that day in and day out. >> as mitt questioned everything he was raised to believe in, his father tried to get his son back on track. >> your father sent you this letter when you were in france. and he quoted robert lewis
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stevenson to you in trying to sort of get you not to feel discourages and he said despair not, but if you despair, work on in your despair. and then he wrote, so persist. >> my dad. what a guy. what a guy. i mean, he's always been there for me. and look, i remember my dad's advice throughout my life. every time i had challenges of one kind or another, he was there with counsel. an extraordinary man. >> who happened to be running for president while mitt was a world away. isolated. depending largely on newspaper accounts of his father's fight for the republican nomination. >> i have decided to fight for and win the republican nomination and election to the presidency of the united states. >> the war in vietnam was issue number one. george romney had been a hawk. but turned against the war and
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said so. >> well, you know when i came back from vietnam, i just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get. >> by the generals? >> when you distinguish over to vietnam. not only by the generals but also by the diplomatic corps over there. >> months after his now infamous brainwashing comment, his campaign collapsed. >> go, mitt, go. >> an early political lesson, mitt romney would never forget. >> his sister jane said this deeply affected mitt and he's more careful in what he says, more scripted in what he says because he saw how just one phrase could torpedo a presidential campaign. >> thank you, governor romney. >> thank you very much. >> if george's failure turned romney into the cautious candidate he is today, he won't admit it. >> some people say you've learned from or overlearned his mistakes. >> i tell the truth too, and he used to say, one of his favorite sayings was that being right too
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early is devastating in politics. but still, it's being right. and you tell people what you believe. >> what romney believes has become an issue throughout his political career. and while the message was clearer in france, his mission would almost cost him his life. >> i was at home and i had word that he was killed. -[ taste buds ] donuts, donuts! -who are these guys? -oh, that's just my buds. -bacon. -my taste buds. -[ taste buds ] donuts. how about we try this new kind of fiber one cereal? you think you're going to slip some fiber by us? okay. ♪ fiber one is gonna make you smile. ♪ [ male announcer ] introducing new fiber one nutty clusters and almonds.
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in 1968, france was a dangerous place to be for a 21-year-old american. but mitt romney was right in the middle of it. >> there were protests and there were blockades and there were marches all over the country. >> the streets of france were in chaos. >> there was no train service. there were no buses, no newspapers. the electricity would go off from time to time. there were no letters from home. the money at the time came via check. that was our lifeline was getting those letters from home. >> totally isolated? >> totally isolated. >> they were out of touch pretty much with 200 missionaries that they were responsible for. >> andy anderson's father was leading the mormon mission in france. by the time the riots ended,
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romney was promoted to be anderson's assistant. >> they had gotten word there was a dispute in this mormon congregati congregation. so they decided to run it down. and mitt was driving. >> it was a warm summer day in june when they began a six-hour drive between paris and the south of france. romney was driving anderson and his wife, leola. >> they were in the town of beaulac. they come near the top of a hill, in their way is a mercedes. they had no time to react. the car was on the wrong side of the road. >> and the mercedes driver apparently drunk slammed into them at full speed. both cars crushed and mangled, mitt romney and leola anderson unconscious. >> george called me on the phone and said, we have bad news about mitt. he didn't tell me what.
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he picked me and took me to his home. i had word that he was killed. >> the policeman on the scene apparently thought i was in worse condition than i was and wrote in french, he is dead, on my passport. >> we waited for hours and hours. most of the night to get word from france that he was actually alive. >> i was knocked unconscious and only recall waking up for a brief moment in the ambulance going to the hospital. >> it turns out that romney had a severe concussion and broken bonus. but leola, the mom away from home to 200 young missionaries, was dead. >> this was a huge deal. this rocked the mormon community, not just in france but all over the world and in salt lake city. >> it was a great time of challenge and soul searching for all of us. >> romney, anderson's assistant, was now left to lead a struggling mission. >> the person leading our mission there, a wonderful man, was so injured that he had to return to the united states for
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surgeries. and during that time, i and one other fellow took responsibility for overseaing the affairs of the 200 or so men and women -- or boys and girls that were serving there as missionaries. >> this was a critical moment. >> it was. >> morale must have been -- >> morale was low. by september, we were only halfway toward ourearly goals. >> romney kept the mission going and set an ambitious new goal, more than doubling the target for conversions. >> mitt said, we need to raise the bar, raise the expectation, if we want to really change behavior, we've got to have people do things different from how they've been doing them. >> so they did just that. >> we were dressed up in vaudeville outfits that we found in the basement of the mission home there. and it brought the house down and lifted people's spirits. and they were laughing again. >> spirits were high and so were
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the number of converts. >> we were at 80. >> you were at 80. >> doubling it in the last four months. come december 31st, we had 204, 205 new converts. so the goal was accomplished. >> and by the end of his mission, romney had cemented his faith. >> these things drew me closer to the eternal and convinced me that, in fact, there is a god, that jesus christ is the son of god and my savior and these are features that continue to be important in my life. >> he was a young boy when he left, a prankster, and liked to play jokes and probably didn't take life too seriously. and being in france and having to stand up for what you believe in, taught him a lot about himself. he came back much more studious, much more serious, i think discovered a little bit about who he was and what was important to him. >> mitt romney was ready to return home but an unexpected letter sent him reeling. >> i was just sort of telling him before he came home, it's
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